|code advice for complainants
Reporting 'Off the Record' Information
The PCC is sometimes asked for advice about the principle of 'off the record' information. This is information that is given to a journalist or editor on the basis that it is not for publication.
When responding to complaints on this subject the Commission will generally distinguish between cases involving people who regularly deal with the media and cases involving people with little or no knowledge of how the press operates.
When an interviewee has a lot of experience, he or she will probably be well aware that they should make clear at the beginning of an interview that certain information is to remain private - or, if published, is not to be attributed to them. If their instructions are ignored there may be grounds for making a complaint either under Clause 3 (Privacy) or Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Code of Practice.
For those unused to dealing with the press, there may be grounds for complaint if a journalist has deliberately enticed (perhaps by false assurances of confidentiality) information from someone who does not understand that the details - which are private in nature - may actually be published.
Nonetheless, people should be aware that if they speak to a journalist and do not categorically state that the conversion is 'off the record', it may well be regarded as 'on the record'.
The PCC is always happy to give advice about any aspect of the Code of Practice. If you would like to discuss this with a member of PCC staff, please do contact us on 020 7831 0022
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